MY INSPIRATION: Chris Ord | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Newcastle-based author Chris Ord is currently working on his fourth novel, a dark fairy tale entitled Shadowfolk. His previous work has included the dystopian novels Becoming and Awakening, and supernatural fantasy The Storm, all which are rooted in Northumbrian heritage and folklore. A keen musician and passionate music lover, Chris talks here about finding inspiration in sound…

People often ask me what the most important element of writing is for me. It’s a tough question as there are so many ingredients that are essential – plot, character, dialogue, pace, mystery. My first response would be story. It is paramount. Writers are storytellers, our job is to engage, intrigue, challenge, but above all entertain. I admire literary brilliance, but don’t want to read a book if it’s boring. Mood and atmosphere are also vital. It’s something I focus on a lot. Atmosphere is crucial in creating a sense of place and emotion, drawing in the reader and immersing them into your world. I have a very descriptive and immersive style and this is something I enjoy working on. Of course, it’s not easy to do, but one of the ways I achieve this is through music.

I’m a musician and play principal horn for Newbiggin brass band, the village in Northumberland where I grew up. Music is a key part of my life and I often see my music and writing as being intertwined, each influencing the other. My favourite music is often dominated by mood and atmosphere and this is something I use to inspire my writing. If there is a mood I am looking to capture I think of an album that makes me feel that way. I listen to it obsessively between writing sessions using the music to shape the words. Music and words are closely linked. There’s a rhythm and melody to sentences that helps create atmosphere, and this is similar to songs or albums. I also love intimacy in music and want to feel and create an emotional connection. It’s important to sense the artist cares. If you’re passionate about something it shines through. When you play a piece you have to live it and purvey the emotion through the expression and colour of your performance. Writing is exactly the same.

So what are my mood albums? Becoming and Awakening are dystopian novels, and in musical terms I would describe them as my Diamond Dogs books. David Bowie fans will be familiar with Diamond Dogs, his dark dystopian early seventies album inspired by Orwell’s 1984 and Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend. It’s my favourite Bowie album, and those are two of my favourite books. There’s a feeling of isolation and terror to the album, a mood I wanted to evoke throughout my novels.

My second novel, The Storm is a different kind of story. It’s a supernatural folk horror set in mid-nineteenth century Northumberland. With this, I wanted to capture the mood of Pink Moon by Nick Drake. The album has a bleak, desolate, scary atmosphere. For me, it feels as though there’s a phantom sitting in the room singing to you. All writers look for tools to help them in their craft, and anyone looking for inspiration I’d recommend you turn to music. It’s such an important part of our lives and has a direct and profound influence on my writing.

All three of Chris’ books are available from Amazon in both paperback and Kindle versions.

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